What are Deer Mice?

Only distantly related to a house mouse, the deer mouse has relatively larger eyes and a two-tone coloring with dark colors on the back and a white underside, as well as white limb hairs. They are also great runners and jumpers compared to a house mouse. Deer mice can be carriers of a few types of diseases, including Hantavirus and Lyme disease. Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis are also carried by deer mice.

Frequented Areas by Deer Mice

The deer mouse is native to North America and is actually found all over the continent, except for the far north part of the continent and southeastern portion of the United States. They normally nest up high in large trees alone, but will sometimes nest with the opposite sex. There is a high population of deer mice in the western mountains, as they thrive in wooded areas, as well as areas that were previously wooded.

Identification of Deer Mice

Deer mice are round and slender, and can range from 12 cm to 28 cm in body length from nose to tail. They have a pointed nose and large, black, beady eyes. Their ears are large with little to no fur covering them, and their body is bi-colored. The tail is short and bi-colored as well, dark on top and light underneath of it, and covered in short, fine hairs. Overall, their fur is strikingly similar to that of a deer’s. At birth, deer mice are hairless and pink, weighing only 1 to 3 grams and begin their color change within 24 hours of birth. By the 3rd day, the ears will unfold and within 2 weeks the eyes will open and at 4 weeks, the young are weaned off of their mother. The new fur looks faintly blue in color, which does fade as they get older and disappears totally when they have reached the point of being able to reproduce.

Special Characteristics of Deer Mice

Deer mice are nocturnal and spend their days in trees or burrows that have been made into nests with leaves and other materials. Families of deer mice generally do not mingle with other families with litters. Though sometimes the home ranges of deer mice do tend to overlap, they socialize with the opposite sex and recognize others and do interact a lot.

These mice reproduce throughout the year and are actually determined by the availability of food. The young deer mice usually disperse after they have been weaned but do not normally travel any more than 500 feet from the area in which they were born. The life expectancy can be up to 96 months, but males have an average of 47.5 months life expectancy while females have an expectancy of about 45.5 months. In many areas, these deer mice do not live for more than 1 year because of predators.

Removal and Preventative Procedures

Rodent-proof materials on entryways on the exterior of a home can ensure that the deer mice do not enter. All holes, no matter the size, should be patched and sealed because deer mice can even go through a hole the size of a dime. Making sure that grass and weeds stay mowed and removing clutter from a yard can make a home or yard less attractive to a deer mouse as there will be nowhere to hide or nest.

It is also important to keep food packaged in stainless steel, glass, or thick plastic as the mice will not be able to get through this as opposed to paper boxes and this plastic bags. It is very difficult to remove deer mice and most times it involves traps.

Chemical Application and Pesticidal Removal of Deer Mice

It is important to contact a pest care professional to aid in eradicating a deer mouse infestation. It must be noted that the use of rodent poison and chemicals is not recommended. If the mouse ingests this chemical and then goes outside, it is likely that it will be preyed on by a bird. When the bird ingests this rodent that has ingested the poison, the bird will likely die. It is extremely important that the birds do not ingest this, as the birds have no way of knowing that the rodent is sick. Many owls have been found dead from ingesting mice that have been poisoned.

For further information you may be interested in these articles:

Live Traps for Rodents

Humane Pest Control for Rodents

How to Control the Woodrat Population


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